The People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced three persons to prison for a period of four to 12 years on Monday, September 24, on charges of ‘implementing anti-government propaganda activities against the State of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’.
The jury concluded that the defendants’ were serious offenders and that their actions negatively impacted national security and the image of Vietnam in the eyes of the international community.
|From L : Tạ Phong Tần, Nguyễn Văn Hải and Phan Thanh Hải ( photo Internet )|
Nguyen Van Hai, 60, who blogged as Dieu Cay, from District 3 in HCMC, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Ta Phong Tan, 44, who blogged as Su That Va Cong Ly, from the southern province of Bac Lieu received 10 years; while Phan Thanh Hai, 43, who blogged as AnhbaSaigon, from Thu Duc District in HCMC, received four years in prison.
Nguyen Van Hai will also have to serve five years under house arrest after he completes his prison sentence, while the probation period after release for the other two is three years.
During the probation term, all three will be deprived of a number of rights, such as the right to vote and the right to join the armed forces.
According to the indictment, Nguyen Van Hai was the leader of the blog ‘Freelance Journalists Club’ that was set up for writing, disseminating and storing documents distorting the Party and State to sow suspicion and undermine the people’s trust in the administration.
Hai had posted 26 articles containing anti-government propaganda on the blog, while Tan, had blogged 101 articles expressing a grudge against the regime and accusing high-ranking officials and State agencies.
Meanwhile, Phan Thanh Hai who had been in charge of the blog’s science and law page, created another blog called ‘Anhbasaigon’ in which he wrote 21 articles against the State and called for a change in the political system in Vietnam.
While Hai and Tan denied that their activities were against the State, they admitted that they had posted such articles on their blogs.
According to the jury, the defendants’ crime was particularly serious as it had continued for a long period of time and hence had violated national security.
Furthermore, Nguyen Van Hai was head of the so-called ‘Freelance Journalists Club’ and was the main party responsible for these articles and thus must receive maximum punishment.
In addition, Phan Thanh Hai and Nguyen Van Hai had also taken part in a training course for non-violent struggle that was held in Thailand by the US-based Viet Tan organization, known for their terrorist activities.